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Undernourishment in pregnant, lactating females found key to next generation's disease
Date:6/13/2011

from nutritionally restricted mothers showed increases in fasting glucose, fasting insulin and other hallmarks of prediabetes. The 12 young baboons whose mothers received adequate nutrition displayed none of these traits.

The central importance of this observation is that the mothers' food intake was only moderately restricted similar to the decrease faced in the United State by many people living with food insecurity. There are 925 million undernourished people worldwide, including 19 million in developed countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The researchers conclude that even moderate nutrient deficiencies during pregnancy result in offspring predisposed to type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are exposed to other risk factors in later life, such as a Western diet and physical inactivity leading to obesity. A fetus may also receive fewer nutrients due to teenage pregnancy, where the growing mother competes with her offspring for resources; in pregnancies complicated by maternal vascular disease, which may occur in women who become pregnant later in their reproductive life; and when placental problems exist. The decrease in fetal growth observed in the newborn baboons was only about 10 percent, very similar to many human babies born growth restricted.

Next Steps

According to Dr. Nathanielsz, the next step is separating the effect of nutrient deficiencies experienced during pregnancy from those that occur during breastfeeding.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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